Kashmir: Autonomy or Secession?

Posted on August 14, 2010 in Politics

By Uzair Fahmi:

Violence & killings has, in the recent times, become a daily fixture in the Valley. We see teenagers getting killed in firing by the CRPF personnel, and counter violence by the common Kashmiris — who is provoked or not — is a debatable topic. This was not supposed to happen when the erstwhile Raja Hari Singh agreed to amalgamate the territory with India. From 1947-1953 the valley enjoyed autonomy with all its political and economic affairs controlled by the state ministry; the central government could not meddle with the affairs except for defence & communication sectors. But things didn’t exactly go as planned with emergence of secessionist leaders, insurgency and accusations of rigged polls and the Chief Minister being planted by New Delhi. Things went from bad to worse when Hindus were forced out of Kashmir to settle in some areas of Jammu. During the 1960s and 70s there was agitation among the people of predominant Buddhist Population of Ladakh and Hindus about the absolute power yielded by Muslim majority while dealing with socio-economic affairs.

This brings us up to the question to which every person wants an answer: Is giving Autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir tantamount to gifting it away to Secessionism? The PM has spoken and sounds permissive of granting the pre 1953 autonomy status to J&K, in the ambit of Indian Constitution, if parliament agrees to it. The important point here is: Are we isolating autonomy to only the troubled Kashmir region? What about the people of Jammu and Ladakh, Are they ready for it? Some politicians counter attack this thought by stating that in 2000, the J&K state legislature passed a resolution to the erstwhile BJP government asking for autonomy to be restored back to the valley. But have these politicians ever considered the minuscule representation of the minority communities in the state legislative assembly. Such is the ambivalence in the minds of people that giving autonomy might actually benefit the separatists who have a more Pro-Pakistan inclination.

One of my friends Mr. Ranchan Koul, Jammu Board Topper 2007, feels that Jammu region is better off without autonomy and quips “Agar Kashmiri logon ko chahiye toh unhe dedo par hummein autonomy nahi chahiye”. The ambivalence has triggered resentment in the minds of the already volatile Kashmiri people. If autonomy eventually gets restored in the valley then does it really cater to the demands of the whole society or a fragmented one? Do we have a leader in the Valley who is capable enough of handling an autonomous state that has been perennially disturbed with violence & militancy, and is not merely a babe in the wood planted by the Govt. of India. We need answers and in the coming days we will get them.